A friend writes 3/6/22 "Also sorry to hear about the everything2 nightmare. You know what my opinion of that crew has been from the first time you told me about them — a nest of vipers in a seriously toxic environment."

I write back that MOST of the people aren't vipers.

Your alien lizard here and Cthulhu's damn minions have hacked the brains of a small group of noders, poor things.

They have agitated to have me "separated" from the site.

I am hoping that this doesn't mean tying each limb to a horse and sending them the the four corners of the earth.

I am hoping this more means that they will separate me with a sword. I am staying in lizard form, one of the ones that is more tail than anything. If they hack off my tail, well, enjoy. It screws up my balance for a while, but it will regrow. My human hostess will experience it as a sudden weight loss, kind of like a, um, oh where they suck the fat out of your butt and thighs. Brain block.

Anyhow, hugs to all, even the minions, and blessings.

I have petitioned to have my GP distributed to anyone who has logged on in the last year, holding out 1000 for Brevity Quest and 1000 for Iron Noder.

Oh, I also am told that I have not explicitly violated rules. (So that's how you can tell the brains have been hacked!)


I've been running into a strange little phenomenon here on Everything2. I've been looking at the writeups of a friend of mine, and discovering that their writeups, all their recent writeups, good and mediocre alike, keep getting downvoted into negative territory. It's very consistent. 

Too consistent. It almost looks like a certain group of someones is doing this deliberately. 

But hey, maybe it isn't! Maybe a small number of people independently noticed this particular noder, independently decided to pay attention to every one of their writeups, and independently decided that every single one of those writeups sucks, such that, by sheer coincidence, the poor noder's work is landing in negative territory every damn time.

But if this amount of downvotes is deliberate and coordinated, then I am extremely disappointed that a friend of mine is being treated poorly and that their work is being judged unfairly.

I am also quite disturbed, because dammit, I came here to get accurate feedback! That was the subject of my very first daylog! How the hell am I supposed to improve my writing if I can't be certain which of my works everyone likes or dislikes? And don't ask me to solicit private messages, I'm not going to demand people take time out of their schedule to give me their critiques. The voting system is supposed to reduce the burden of feedback by spreading it out and making it simple. Can I still trust the wisdom of the userbase if we're voting based on popularity and not writing quality?

I fear that hatred has marred our website's democracy. I don't want this to be my last daylog but if I can't actually get accurate feedback here then why do I bother to post anything?






I have this to say. Almost everyone here has been downvoted based on personality as well as quality of writing. Because we're all flawed and have traits that will rub others the wrong way from time to time.

I've been subjected to many individuals on a downvote campaign. One spent months going through and downvoting almost every one of my writeups. One is still ongoing, it seems. It happens; no-one can please everyone all the time, and it seems that I offended some folk.

I remember talking to dannye about this, over a beer. I still consider him one of the best writers here and he would sometimes be flooded with downvotes, because in addition to being a great writer, he was also occasionally a spiky and outspoken critic. As a result he garnered some notoriety. Thankfully, the balance of things was such that his detractors were vastly outnumbered by his fans, and as a consequence his corpus has a high vote reputation.

Perhaps your friend has ticked off enough people over a long enough time that they suffer the reverse; that their personality traits have been sufficient to override the quality of their writing? Perhaps the community has spoken. Perhaps three times is no coincidence, but it doesn't have to be a conspiracy, just a community response.

This place is a community, and a community protects itself. Ever see a hornet getting mobbed by bees as it tries to get access to the hive? The bees act according to their nature in driving out one that is considered harmful to the community. They will either sting or smother it to death rather than see it cause damage. The voting system is a part of the hive's defence mechanism.

For my part, I love this place and in general, the people in it. There are people I met here I'd take a bullet for, they've become so important to me. Consider me part of the hive, stings and all.


Edit: Someone pointed out that that last sentence makes it look like I'm a part of some downvote brigade. I'm really not. That isn't how I work, and I've better things to do.

I, too, have a problem with downvotes. Sometimes I am disappointed that I don't get enough of them. If I get at least a few downvotes, I know that people are actually reading. About a month ago, I wrote a semi-parody where I tried to do a phenomenological analysis of a Bazooka Joe comic. Seventeen people voted, and only one downvoted. It is almost offensive, like the other sixteen were just giving me a pat on the back for trying, and the one person who read it and thought What The Fuck?! was the one who was paying attention. Seriously, go and downvote that sucker.

But seriously: upvotes don't do a lot. They don't increase visibility or the chance that something will come up in a search. The only thing that really matters are C!s, and even that doesn't matter. It takes a week for something to scroll off new writeups, so everyone will get a chance to see it anyway.

To be honest, I don't really worry about how users of E2 will view my writeups. I know most of you seem to like me, and anytime I put a minimal effort into a prosaic topic, I can expect lots of imaginary points. Imaginary points I can't do anything with. I can't insulate my attic with those votes. Not that I have an attic. Maybe I could sprinkle upvotes on my carpet and later vacuum them up, leaving a fresh, ozone smell in here? I could use that. It has been a long winter.

But anyway, I am not writing for you. When I imagine my audience, I imagine somewhat who has somehow found this place by going though a search engine whirlpool by clicking on the fifth page of google results and surfaced sputtering in our little pirate cove. What information can they get from my writeup that is not available on an "objective" site like Wikipedia, or is that better formatted than one of the dozens of fandom wikis covered with cruft, or that isn't just someone's microblogging. How can the information I have to go give to people benefit from the conceptual framework of linking we have here? And if I can give somebody something that can be used to increase understanding/appreciation of the world just a little? If I have done that, I have succeeded. If I haven't, then I deserve those downvotes. I mean, I am not a robot, and I also engage in essays and sometimes silliness and white noise posting, and also the cursed thing I am doing right now, writing about E2 on E2. And I understand if that gets downvotes. Because my main idea is: whether this will actually appeal to a general audience, not just people who are into decades worth of circular in-jokes.

So that is my basic take on what is going on here. That being said, there are still eight more pieces of gum in that Bazooka Joe package from December of 2020.

Years ago, I proposed a possible solution to the voting problem.

The answer was always *supposed* to be that you comment on an writeup if you think it could be better, so on and so forth. People don't like to do that. There are different reasons. Some people like to comment. Others don't want to get into a squabble. They feel uncomfortable being critical of a stranger, or someone who is better known on the site than they are.

As I always used to say in the old days, what works in theory doesn't always work in practice. You can't force people to do things differently. You're pushing against human nature. This causes people to pick up stakes and move on. You have to give them some breathing room. You have to account for differences in people and how they respond to a variety of situations. One of those situations involves interacting with others. People who spend a lot of time online, historically speaking, tend to be on the more introverted side. They skew towards "I don't want to get involved" rather than "jump right in and roll the dice, baby." So, these people aren't going to comment and interact with strangers on the site no matter how many times you tell them to.

One of the other things I came to realize over the years is that people often feel guilty about *NOT* voting on a writeup they read. I do it all the time... whenever I can't make it to the end of a writeup, I don't vote. I don't vote unless I read the whole thing. Of course, if the first paragraph makes me want to tear out my spleen and stomp on it, yeah, I'm downvoting it. I don't like reading things that make me want to physically tear my spleen out of my body.

The point is, people feel obliged to vote. There is something that just doesn't sit right about abstaining. So, if they don't feel strongly one way or another about a writeup, they're going to upvote it unless they are by nature a complete asshole. And then they are always going to downvote it. My suggestion back in the day was to have a neutral vote button. This would indicate that although you thought the writeup was okay, it just didn't do anything for you. Something was off. Something was missing. You could also comment. But, as I said above, not always going to happen no matter how hard you twist those arms.

You see, the interactivity of the site evolved completely differently from the original projections. So much so that it was difficult for the site to adjust. The projected ability to comment as an anonymous person, which would allow people to feel freer about commenting on writeups, disappeared when the community aspect of the site developed. Became kind of like a suburban high school instead of a stodgy book club filled with professors who only wash their boxers once a week.

Voting has always been influenced by popularity and personality. Hell, I know there are people who upvote the biggest names on the everything2 circuit who do the "well, this guy is famous around here but there are a lot of words in this writeup. I better just upvote it" bit. There has always been that. And there has always been the "that guy gave me shit in the catbox last week, downvote this sucker" element. It is why all vote tallies on writeups come with a +/- rating of 15 on them. The votes are not accurate. They never have been. They are an indicator of next to nothing... except, perhaps, how many people have read the writeup... unless you are a famous name who automatically gets ten upvotes every time they post a new writeup. It isn't their fault. They didn't ask to be promoted to the elite class. They didn't ask to get champagne cocktails and caviar every time they posted about taking a shit while reading a magazine.

For the voting system to have any meaning, it needs more options. If not a neutral feelings button, then a rating scale of 1 to 10 or something along those lines. The whole upvote or downvote thing just makes people throw up their hands and go, "Eh, let's just upvote it so I can make dinner."

Or perhaps other options. You could have an option to say "I read it and enjoyed the content" or "I made it about halfway through before being distracted by lint" or other thoughts. People like multiple choice questions. They hate true or false. Just the way it is. Change the system. Start a revolution.

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